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Iambulos ( Greek Ἰάμβουλος Iámbulos , German also Iambul ) was the protagonist and possibly also the author of an ancient utopian travelogue or novel that was written in Greek. The dates for the text and the author vary between the 4th and the 1st century BC. Chr.

The work in question has not been passed down directly, but has only been preserved in fragments through a brief summary in Diodorus' history . According to this abstract, a certain Iambulos reported in this text that he had been captured by Ethiopians as a trader in southern Arabia. He was then sent out to sea as a kind of atonement in a ship. Sailing east on the Indian Ocean , he had come to an unknown island. Following the common scheme of the Greek utopia, this island is described as climatically ideal and extremely fertile. The island's residents have (literally) forked tongues so they can have two conversations at the same time. After seven years on this island, Iambulos was banished for an unspecified crime and finally returned to Greece via India and Persia.

It is unclear whether Iambulos was also the author of the text and whether his report should therefore be regarded as an autobiographical report, or whether an author who is not known by name simply named the protagonist of his fictional story. The name Iambulos was partly derived from Semitic and Iambulos was interpreted as a member of the tribe of the Nabataeans , but this is only a guess. Due to its approximate geographical information, the legendary island described by Iambulos is identified by some authors with actual islands, such as Sumatra , Sri Lanka , Bali , Socotra or Madagascar . However, if the text was pure fiction, there is no need for such speculations.

Lukian of Samosata mentioned Iambulos in the introduction to his travel novel True Stories , a parody of untrustworthy travel reports, as a typical author of invented accounts of foreign countries.


Overview representations

  • Massimo Fusillo: Iambulos. In: Der Neue Pauly , Vol. 5, Stuttgart / Weimar 1998, Col. 856-857.
  • Jesùs Lens Tuero, Pedro Pablo Fuentes González: Iamboulos. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 3, CNRS Éditions, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-271-05748-5 , pp. 840-853.


  • Widu-Wolfgang Ehlers : With the southwest monsoon to Ceylon. An interpretation of the Iambul excerpts from Diodorus. In: Würzburg Yearbooks for Classical Studies 11, 1985, pp. 73–84.
  • Matías Sebastián Fernandez Robbio: La travesía de Yambulo por las Islas del Sol (DS, II.55-60). Introducción a su estudio, traducción y notas . In More - Utopia e Renascimento 7, 2010, pp. 27–41 ( online )
  • Marek Winiarczyk: The work of the Iambulos. Research history (1550–1988) and attempt at interpretation. In: Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 140, 1997, pp. 128–153 ( online ; PDF; 5.2 MB)
  • Marek Winiarczyk: The Hellenistic Utopias (= contributions to antiquity . Volume 293). De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-026381-7 , pp. 181-203.
  • David Winston: Iambulos' Island of the Sun and Hellenistic Literary Utopias. In: Science-Fiction Studies 3, 1976, pp. 219-227
  • M. Baldassari: Intorno all'utopia di Giambulo. In: Rivista di filosofia neoscolastica 65, 1973, pp. 303-333, 471-487.
  • L. di Capua: L'Utopia di Giambulo tra filosofia e politica , in: Atti della Accademia di Archeologia, Lettere e Belle Arti di Napoli 100, 1989, pp. 223-240.
  • FF Schwarz: The itinerary of Iambulus - Utopianism and history. In: Indology and law. Studies in honor of JDM Derrett , ed. by G. Sontheimer, Wiesbaden 1982, pp. 18-55.
  • Niklas Holzberg : Utopias and fantastic travel: Euhemerus, Iambulus , in: G. Schmeling (Ed.): The novel in the ancient world , Leiden 1996, pp. 621–628.


  1. Marek Winiarczyk: The Hellenistic utopias. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-026381-7 , p. 196 f.
  2. Diodorus 2, 55-60.
  3. Marek Winiarczyk: The Hellenistic utopias. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-026381-7 , p. 182 f.
  4. Marek Winiarczyk: The Hellenistic utopias. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-026381-7 , pp. 190-192.
  5. Lukian, True Stories 1, 3.